International Translation Day 2021 – What Does a Translator Do?

International Translation Day falls on 30th September each year, the feast day of the famous translator St. Jerome. To celebrate, I thought I should reflect on the work of translators – those of us who turn documents from one language into another.

From contracts to birth certificates, academic reports and press releases, translators help so many individuals and businesses. During the many lockdowns, besides locally-produced TV films and dramas, “foreign” entertainment often featured with subtitles provided by translators. How would we discover new stories and comedy in books without the aid of translation?!

As travel eased, we have found airport guidance and sightseeing recommendations appear in our own language as if by magic. Have you bought a property overseas? A translator would most likely have helped with your conveyancing documents. Inventions and innovations, such as vaccines and medical treatments, have become widespread thanks to translation.

[St. Jerome in his study, picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

Those translators who also work as interpreters (translating spoken language) have enabled online conferences and business meetings to take place, just as they helped in-person events in the past. Some interpreters also work in far more dangerous situations helping military forces overseas. Interpreters provide a vital service in medical situations and court proceedings for health and justice respectively by speaking the words of those unfamiliar with the language required. Translating and interpreting can smooth the path to getting the correct compensation you deserve after an accident or theft.

Without translation, we would miss out on so many opportunities and discoveries. If you want to find out more, check out the websites of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (https://www.iti.org.uk/resource/celebrating-international-translation-day-2021.html) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (https://www.ciol.org.uk/).

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